Maine’s weirdest museum keeps making headlines, a psychic documentary is diverted, an art project reaches out to strangers and the search for Maine’s Bigfoot is coming to a TV near you. Maybe. Someday.

It’s a year-end weird update. 

‘It’s about heart’

Back in May, psychic medium Angelina Diana gave an evening of readings at Monmouth’s Cumston Hall that doubled as a fundraiser for the Theater at Monmouth and the kickoff for the filming of a new documentary on Diana’s work.

Turns out she may be destined for the small screen instead.

Director and sometimes-TAM actor Mike Anthony, from Connecticut, has put the documentary on hold.

“A producer from L.A. got wind of it and called me,” Anthony said last month. “He feels like this topic lends itself well to a reality television show format. We are actually in Delaware this week shooting the pilot episode. The show is all about the healing aspect of mediumship. It’s about heart. We’ll pick up the documentary later, which will be mostly about science.”

TAM spokeswoman Liz Nelson said the first-time fundraiser was a big success.

“We had 172 people turn out, many who had never stepped foot into Cumston Hall before,” she said. “And I think it’s definitely something we’d do again, schedules willing.”

Photography 2.0

Deanna Witman made art with slugs. Now, she’s making art with an expiration date.

As part of a new project called “MELT,” the artist and photography instructor at Unity College mailed envelopes this fall to 250 friends and strangers chosen at random in the phone book. Each envelope contained an old-fashioned photograph, made by her, and a warning: Open it, expose the enclosed artwork to light and it will gradually disappear.

The whole project is a nod to the vanishing snow on the world’s snowiest peaks.

To create the larger gallery pieces and the small, postcard-sized photos she mailed out, Witman started by using Google Earth Pro to take satellite images of places such as Mount Katahdin.

“From there, I create digital negatives,” she said. “They’re printed in a salted paper process, which is one of the earliest means of printing photographs from 1840. You take printmakers’ paper and you hand-coat each one in (salted) gelatin and when you’re ready to create an image, you have to coat it with a silver nitrate solution that you’ve mixed; you’re a chemist, basically.”

About half of the people opened the envelopes. (It is possible to take a peek in dim light without affecting the image, she said.)

As for mailing to strangers: “I wanted to include people who maybe wouldn’t get out to a gallery or wouldn’t be inclined to visit; it was about engaging a wide audience.”

Photographs from MELT and Supercluster Arion and Other Phenomena (that’s the art made with the slugs’ assist) are on display through the end of December at the University of Southern Maine’s Glickman Family Library, part of the yearlong, statewide Maine Photo Project.

Up next for Witman: unpacking. She recently transferred home and studio from Rockland to Warren.

“My project is setting up our living space,” she said. “Oh my goodness, I wouldn’t wish moving on anyone.”

Cryptids on parade

In 2015, Portland’s International Cryptozoology Museum was lauded by the Huffington Post as one of “13 Wonderfully Weird, Creepy Museums To Visit Around the U.S.,” by Elle Decor as one of “24 Wonderfully Weird Museums Around the World” and by the Italian travel website Skyscanner as one of the “10 Weirdest Museums of the World.”

Whatever the number, it’s weird, no question. And it’s on the move.

The museum signed a 10-year lease to move into the new Thompson’s Point development where it will have more parking and a better layout, founder Loren Coleman said.

There will be first- and second-floor exhibits and, from the 32-foot ceilings, “we’ll have different cryptids hanging from the roof,” he said.

He’s set up a $50,000 GoFundMe campaign to defray moving and building costs. Coleman’s also working to locate a research library somewhere nearby for budding Mothman, Loch Ness Monster and chupacabra enthusiasts.

From April to August 2016, the museum will be open at the existing Avon Street address and the new space.

Before that, in January, it will host the International Cryptozoology Museum Conference in St. Augustine, Fla. (Sorry, Maine. In the dead of winter, sunny Florida made more sense, Coleman said.)

“People (are) coming from all over and they’re going to talk about giant squid, coelacanths, Bigfoots and Orang Pendeck from Indonesia,” he said. “There’s lots of Bigfoot conferences and there’s one Mothman conference around the country. We’re doing it as the museum reflects, a very scientific way in which we look at different kinds of cryptids, but we’re also seeing the popular culture aspect of it, too.”

Imagine a road trip to see where “Creature from the Black Lagoon” was filmed. He’s hoping for 150 to 250 attendees.

“The whole move will be exciting,” Coleman said. “Every time we move the (museum’s 8-foot, 500-pound) Bigfoot, different media show up. That’s going to an event in itself.”

And speaking of Bigfoot … 

Last April, the cast and crew from Animal Planet’s hit reality TV show “Finding Bigfoot” visited Maine to search for Mr. Elusive and held a town hall meeting seeking stories of local sightings to drum up ideas on where to look. The Sun Journal was the only media outlet in the room (which was actually a large, rustic barn).

For more than two hours, Mainer after Mainer stood to share incredibly detailed sightings that had left many a little shaken, each sounding sincere to the last.

It was really interesting. And it’s also entirely embargoed until the episode airs.

“It will run when ‘Finding Bigfoot’ returns, but at this time, we don’t know when that is,” an Animal Planet spokesman said earlier this year.

Shooting for other episodes in Season 8, which will presumably include the Maine episode, started in November.

So, there’s already one weird thing to look forward to in 2016.

Weird, Wicked Weird is a monthly feature on the strange, unexplained and intriguing in Maine. Send photos, ideas and merry slugs to [email protected]


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